Vaude Lightwing Ultralight Tent REVIEW

Two-person, three-season, double wall tent with a high price but a sturdy build.

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by Ken Knight | 2006-02-21 03:00:00-07

Note: the Vaude Lightwing has been discontinued by the manufacturer but is still available from some retailers.

Overview

Vaude Light Wing Ultralight Tent REVIEW - 1
The Vaude Lightwing Ultralight all buttoned up. It performed well after a night of nearly 3 inches of heavy, wet snowfall that rapidly melted as the day warmed up.

The Vaude Lightwing Ultralight is a two-person, three-season double wall tent. Vaude has created a tent that tries to mix a lot of roominess, lightweight design, sturdy fabrics, and reasonable setup into one package. The Lightwing has an internal surface area of just over 32.5 square feet and retains a fairly high 38.5 inch ceiling throughout much of the tent, making the tent feel remarkably roomy for its light weight of 4 pounds 5.1 ounces (1.96 kg). This is not a tent for people who want to relish the views; a single screen insert in the front door is the only window. Vaude’s selection of durable materials for this tent certainly increases the overall weight, but also increases the sturdiness of the tent. At $423, the Lightwing is expensive but it built to last many seasons.

In Brief

  • Decent internal surface area and height make this a comfortable tent especially for backpackers or mountaineers used to close quarters.
  • The tent breathes quite well despite its lack of windows or other ventilation.
  • Set up can be a challenge, especially in windy conditions.
  • Vestibule should be larger.
  • The inner tent sags, and under heavy snow pressure can easily come into contact with the outer wall and/or your sleeping bag if you are lying near the tent wall.

Specifications

  Year/Model

2004 Vaude Lightwing Ultralight

  Style

Double wall tent with floor

  Fabrics

Outer fly: double sided silicone coated 40d ripstop nylon; inner tent: 30d ripstop nylon; floor: PU coated 40d ripstop nylon

  Pole Material

Aluminum

  Weight Full Package
As supplied by manufacturer with all included items

4 lb 5.1 oz (1.96 kg) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 4 lb 5.8 oz (1.98 kg)

  Weight Manufacturer Minimum
Includes minimum number of items needed to erect tent

4 lb 1.3 oz (1.86 kg) measured weight

  Weight Backpacking Light Minimum
Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes and 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Spectra guy lines

4 lb 0.6 oz (1.82 kg) measured weight

  Area

Floor area (measured) 32.5 ft2 (3.02 m2); manufacturer's claim: 35.0 ft2 (3.25 m2)
Vestibule area (measured) 6.25 ft2 (0.58 m2); manufacturer's claim 8.1 ft2 (0.75 m2)

  Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.54 ft2/oz

  Dimensions

Length: 122 in (310 cm)
Width: 64 in (163 cm)
Height: 38.5 in (97 cm)

  MSRP

£240 ($423 USD)

Usable Features / Ease of Use

Vaude Light Wing Ultralight Tent REVIEW - 2
Setting up the Lightwing Ultralight can be a challenge even with mild breezes.

The Vaude Lightwing Ultralight is more difficult to set up than its simple design appears, especially in windy conditions. First, you run the 13-foot pole through its sleeve and insert it into the far end grommet, then you have to manhandle the whole structure to get the pole into the grommet at your end. This is made more challenging because you are working with a large sail at this point. Even a slight breeze can have a great impact on the tent as you struggle to get the pole into the second grommet. Once the pole is in place, staking the tent is next. Adhering to the directions and trying to stake out the front and back pole ends of the tent first, is challenging because the provided stakes do not always stay in the loops. I found it was better to quickly stake out the outer wall corners, then work on the inner tent, and finally the two pole ends. If at this point you decide the outer wall should be pulled further from the inner wall, you can use the provided guylines, but we found this was not generally necessary. The last step is to place the short spreader pole in place. This is tricky even in mild conditions because everything is already taut and inserting this pole requires a fair bit of force.

Vaude provides lightweight (0.35 oz / 10 g) aluminum stakes that are easy to pound into the ground but sometimes pop out of the tent loops at either end of the pole because of their L-shaped design with small heads (10 mm by 15 mm). This isn’t a problem with the stake out points around the rest of the tent since the small plastic D-loops fit snugly around the stake flukes.

Vaude Light Wing Ultralight Tent REVIEW - 3
A tall backpacker sitting inside the Vaude Lightwing with plenty of headroom.

The Lightwing has plenty of room inside and storage options including two 12- inch long by 7.5-inch high wall pockets for storing small items and sidewall and ceiling loops for hanging items.

Weight / Sizing

The complete tent package, which includes the tent, 10 stakes, guylines, and an extra aluminum rod for use as a pole segment replacement, is contained in two stuff sacks and weighs 4 pounds 5.1 ounces. A minimal field kit with eight lightweight tent stakes, tent, and two poles contained in one stuff sack tips the scales at 4 pounds 1.3 ounces.

Usable Space

The Vaude Lightwing Ultralight feels remarkably roomy for a tent with a floor area of only 32.5 square feet. The nearly vertical walls, the mostly rectangular floor, and the overall height of the tent combine to create a more spacious interior than you would expect. Problems with space start to become noticeable when tall people sleep in the tent. While the first 72 inches of the floor form part of a nearly perfect rectangle, the remaining length of the tent is compromised by the inward curve of the back wall. People using long (78 inch/198 centimeter) sleeping bags may feel cramped when trying to stretch out.

The tent walls, while fairly vertical, have a tendency to bow in which affects the perceived usable space in the tent.

Vaude Light Wing Ultralight Tent REVIEW - 4
The vestibule is not very large, but the front flaps can be opened up all the way in nice weather.

The vestibule, though small, is suitable for stowing backpacks and wet shoes. Fully battened down, the vestibule provides complete protection from the outside world. When the weather is clear you can unzip the vestibule in either direction. Opening the vestibule using the bottom to top zippers creates a large, easily accessible opening, but also creates a large area of flopping fabric that cannot be secured. In general, it is better to use the top-to-bottom zipper even though this results in a smaller entry to the main door.

The tent is very bright inside. Despite the fly’s deep forest green color, the inner tent is a cheery light yellow that gives the shelter a spacious and inviting feel.

Wind Stability

The Vaude Lightwing Ultralight held up quite well under moderately windy conditions, especially when pitching the ends into the wind. However, the large sidewalls with no side guyouts had significant deflection with 40 mph side gusts. It is important that the fly is pitched tightly and that all the stakeout points are used under heavy wind pressure.

Storm Protection

The shelter kept rain and snow out. It is important to provide a taut outer wall pitch, especially in snowy conditions. One night when I pitched the outer wall close to the inner tent, several inches of wet snow fell and caused some deflection of the inner tent surface. Although I was lying right next to the tent wall, no condensation appeared on my sleeping bag at any time, and once I tapped off the snow the deflection eased.

Ventilation / Condensation Resistance

Vaude Light Wing Ultralight Tent REVIEW - 5
The one 18-inch wide by 9-inch tall semi-circular window improves ventilation but provides a minimal view.

The Lightwing Ultralight has one 18-inch wide by 9 inch tall semi-circular window built into the front door. Even if you open the vestibule up completely there is not much of a view. With just this single window to provide ventilation I expected condensation problems, especially after I completely sealed the tent, but the Lightwing performed very well. Moisture moves easily through the inner tent wall and collects on the inside surface of the outer wall where it quickly evaporates.

Insect Protection

The Vaude Lightwing Ultralight is completely bug proof. But this is not the shelter I would choose for escaping bugs for hours - the single, smallish window would turn minutes into hours.

Durability

The rain fly is made of silicone coated 40 denier ripstop nylon, with a 30 denier ripstop nylon innerwall, and 6-inch high bathtub style floor built from polyurethane coated 40 denier ripstop nylon. These are, by lightweight standards, heavy-duty fabrics. I have no worries about pitching the tent directly on the ground. I have used the tent on multiple backpacking trips and left it pitched outside in my southeast Michigan backyard through the latter portion of the winter and early spring. I’ve seen no signs of deterioration.

Value

The Vaude Lightwing Ultralight is a solidly built tent that can certainly handle three-season weather. It can also hold its own in many wintertime conditions, though Vaude does not call this a four-season tent. The tent is built to last a long time even if you treat it roughly. If you don’t care about views and need a tent that will protect you from all but the worst weather, this shelter is worth considering even at the relatively high retail price of $423 since it is quite durable.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • The stakeout points at the ends of the main pole do not provide a secure attachment point with the provided stakes. I recommend providing different stakes for the endpoints.
  • Providing midpoint stakeout points on the inner tent would help reduce the natural inward deflection of the sidewalls.

Tips

  • Don’t peg the pole ends of the tent immediately after you get the long pole in place, since the pegs will not stay in. Instead stake out the outer wall first, and then work on the inner tent and the stakeout points at the pole ends.
  • Stake out the outer wall as far from the inner tent as you can. This helps reduce the chance the outer wall will sag against the inner tent.


Citation

"Vaude Lightwing Ultralight Tent REVIEW," by Ken Knight. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/vaude_lightwing_ultralight_tent_review.html, 2006-02-21 03:00:00-07.

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